Book Project on Schleswig-Holstein’s Bridges Underway: Now Accepting Information, Photos and Stories

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Rendsburg High Bridge spanning the Baltic-North Sea Canal. Photo taken in 2011

Touted by many to be the most beautiful state in Germany, Schleswig-Holstein offers a mixture of landscapes and climates to attract the vacationer wishing to escape the city life. It is sandwiched by two different seas- the North Sea in the west and the Baltic Sea in the east, each offering different forms of flora and fauna as well as Schietwetter (storms producing high winds, torrential downpours and high tides). The Baltic-North Sea Canal, connecting the state capital of Kiel with Brunsbüttel via Rendsburg slices the state into two, even though the 1895 canal replaced a 1700s canal that complimented the longest river in the state, the Eider. That river starts near Kiel and ends in the North Sea, but not before passing through bridge-laden towns of Rendsburg, Friedrichstadt and Tönning, while at the same time, connecting with the rivers Treene and Sorge.

The hills east of Kiel and in the Seegeberg region provides a great backdrop for photographers wishing to get some pictures of scenery along the river Schwentine, which also gets its additional water from the lakes region near Plön and Eutin, located between Kiel and Lübeck. At the same time, the state is bordered to the south and east by two major waterways: the Elbe to the south and the 80 kilometer long Lauenburg-Lübeck Canal to the east. From Lübeck going north into Denmark, the state receives additional water from the Baltic Sea in the form of fjords, found in Kiel, the Schlei region and Flensburg. The western half is characterized by flat plains with gullies and diversion canals to channel water and protect farmlands and beaches from flooding.

 

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Stone Arch Bridge in Friedrichstadt: the oldest in the Dutch community at 240+ years. Photo taken in August 2017

With all this water, one needs to cross it- by bridge!

 

Many books have been written about the history of places in Schleswig-Holstein and the different regions full of natural habitats and historic places of interest. There are enough books on light houses (including the famous Westerhever), windmills (like the ones in the Dithmarschen, Schleswig and Ostholstein districts), and holiday resorts (like St. Peter-Ording, Travemünde and Fehmarn) to fill up a library section, just with those alone. There is even a book on the Faces of Flensburg, focusing on the people who made the former rum capital and key port famous, including the founder of the adult entertainment store, Beate Uhse, who opened the world’s first store of this type in 1962.

 

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Bridge of Friendship at the German-Danish border north of Flensburg. Photo taken in 2010

Yet with many bridges in Schleswig-Holstein- many of which have histories going back over 100 years, only two books have been written about this topic: one on the bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, one on the dual draw bridge north of Lübeck (which no longer exists). The most recent book, published last year, commemorated the centennial of the two-span arch bridge in Friedrichstadt, whose drawbridge span allows for passage along the Eider.  Not even a book on the Fehmarn Bridge, the world’s first basket-handle tied arch bridge has been written.

 

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White Draw Bridge in Tönning

This leads us to the question of why we’ve neglected to write about the other bridges in the state.

 

Since 2011, I’ve been photographing and writing about some of the bridges in the state, which includes the cities of Kiel, Flensburg, Lübeck and Friedrichstadt as well as the bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, wondering what they looked like a century before, how they were built and who built them. In addition, research is being undertaken to find out what other bridges exist in the present, had existed before getting replaced by modern structures and who were behind the building of the bridges. Even more interesting is the role of bridge engineers in Schleswig-Holstein, as the state imported many famous ones, like Friedrich Voss and Hermann Muthesius but exported just as many to other regions in Germany, Europe and even the United States. Lawrence H. Johnson was one of those who made his mark both as a bridge builder and a politician- in the state of Minnesota!

 

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One of many pedestrian crossings over the gullies and canals at Westerhever Lighthouse

With as much work put in as possible, the decision has been made to write a book on the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein. This five-year project will focus on the bridges, past and present, which has shaped the state and its infrastructure, while at the same time, fostered tourism, business and commerce, especially over the last 150+ years. At the same time, however, we will look at the engineers who left their mark in the state while those, who originated from S-H, emigrated to other places to leave their legacies.  The work will be written in three languages: German, English and Danish, reflecting on the languages of the residents and those who are interested in reading this piece and visiting the sites.

 

I’m looking for the following in order to complete this book project:

 

  1. Old photos, postcards and information on the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein, especially including the previous crossings (those that were replaced with today’s modern structures) and ones that no longer exists. This includes bridges in towns and cities as well as along the rivers: Stör, Eider, Sorge, Trave, Aarau, Treene and Schwentine, and also those along the canals: Alte Eider, Lauenburg-Lübeck and Gieselau.

 

  1. Stories about the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein that are memorable and worth mentioning in the book. Already mentioned in the book on the Eider Bridge in Friedrichstadt, sometimes stories and memories about the bridge makes the crossing one worth remembering.

 

  1. Information on the bridge engineers in Schleswig-Holstein who left their mark in bridge building, apart from Friedrich Voss as well as those who originated from the state that left their mark elsewhere, like Lawrence H. Johnson.

 

  1. As the book will feature the Danish version, I’m looking for a Danish translator, preferably either a native speaker or one who has mastered the language (as the Germans would say, Sicher in Wort und Schrift)

 

If you have any information that will be of use for the book or would like to support the book project in anyway, shape or form, please use the contact form below and send me a line. You can also contact the Chronicles via facebook by using its messenger on its page. Additional contact information is available by request.

 

 

Please feel free to pass this information around to anyone who wants to contribute, as this is open to not only bridge experts and enthusiasts, but also locals and people who either have knowledge of the bridges in Schleswig-Holstein, are willing to help out or both.

 

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An 1800s arch bridge spanning the River Schwentine in Kiel

With many key bridges out there (going beyond the ones that I’ve profiled), and many historic bridges being replaced with modern ones, whose lifespans are half of that of their predecessors, it is time to bring them to light. Because after all, they have just as much value to Schleswig-Holstein as the other key features the state has to offer. One has to click on the highlighted names in this article and look at the offer of books for sale at a local book store or via amazon to find out how important these structures are for the development of the state that prides itself on sailing, shipping, handball, sheep, windmills, farming, Sauerfleisch, rum, roasted potatoes, beer, Schietwetter and the famous greeting of “Moin moin!”

 

Stay tuned for some articles to be posted on some bridges in the Eiderstedt region, where the author vacationed for a couple weeks.

 

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The Bridges of Friedrichstadt, Germany

The Stone Arch Bridge and the market square with the Dutch facaded housing in the background. Photo taken in August 2012

Located seven km (or four miles) south of the fourth largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, Husum, and at the junction of the Eider and Treene River, seven kilometers inward from the North Sea, Friedrichstadt appears to be a typical small town in the northernmost state of Germany with rows of small houses, farmland scenery with cattle and sheep grazing in the fields, and people greeting each other with “Moin! Moin!”. The town prides itself on its tourism and the typical specialties with fish, just like the rest of the cities up north. But Friedrichstadt also prides itself on its history and multiculture. Founded in 1623 by King Friedrich III and despite surviving four wars with its neighbors plus persecution of certain races, Friedrichstadt is one of the cultural points of interest, where large groups of Dutch, Frisans, Danes, Jews and Germans speaking northern dialects have lived for almost 400 years. It was a center commerce point for trade with empires from Russia, Scandanavia and Prussia, but is now a tourist attraction, where thousands of tourists from over 100 countries visit every year.

The town was built using Amsterdam as the ante-type, featuring canals that slice through the town of 2,300, but encircling its beloved Dutch-style houses, and like the Dutch capital, the city is loaded with bridges of different types and coming from different eras of time. Eighteen Bridges can be found in this city, including two major crossings over the Eider just outside the city limits and some key notables in the town itself. Each of the crossings can be reached by foot, by bike, or by boat, with most of them telling a story or having a picture showing its history, making the town proud of its history and heritage. After all, there are many reasons why Friedrichstadt is in the running for the Ammann Awards for Best Kept Secret on the International Scale.  While one can write a library about the town’s 18 bridges, which is unusual for small town standards (a town of that size could have 3-5 bridges on average pending on location), the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will feature a handful of bridges that are definitely worth seeing when spending even a few hours in this beloved Dutch town. Each bridge will have a brief history, but photos for you to see, courtesy of not only yours truly, but also many contributors, who were willing to step forward to help. The credits will be provided at the end of the article.  So without further ado, we’ll start with the outer edge of town with the two Eider Bridges and work our way towards the Treene.

Inside the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012

Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge

Spanning the Eider River at the southwest end of town, this bridge represents one of the finest works of Friedrich Voss, who had constructed many bridges along the Baltic-North Sea Canal, including the Rendsburg High Bridge. Built in 1916, three years after the world-renowned bridge was open to rail traffic, the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge features three spans- the center span being a two-part draw bridge; the outer spans being steel through arch bridges. While the draw span is rarely used nowadays, the bridge has received its regular wear and tear as it serves traffic going south towards Heide. It still serves traffic today despite being renovated in 2006.

Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives
Photo taken in August 2012

View of the Friedrichstadt Railroad Bridge from the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012

The Friedrichstadt Railroad Bridge

This bridge is one of the more popular structures in Schleswig Holstein and northern Germany. First built in 1887, the bridge featured multiple-span truss bridges with a swing span at the river crossing, with the purpose of providing passengers with rail service between Hamburg and the Island of Sylt, located in the North Sea at the Danish Border. The first bridge featured five bowstring arch spans on the north end of the Eider, followed by two Whipple through truss spans that were separated by a bowstring arch span, as shown in the picture below:

The first bridge after it opened in 1887, looking from the north end. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives

In 1908, the spans were replaced, one by one with another set of trusses, which featured from south to north one Pennsylvania through truss with A-frame portal bracings, one bowstring arch swing span, another Pennsylvania through truss and five polygonal Warren through truss spans. Photographer H.D. Kienitz provided a diagram of what the spans looked like below:

Diagram courtesy of H.D. Kienitz, used with permission

Five years later, an identical was built alongside the 1908 bridge and for 74 years, the bridge provided two-way traffic before a major reconstruction job took place in 1987 and lasted seven years. It consisted of replacing the bowstring arch swing span with a polygonal Warren through truss  swing span that was operated electronically and removing the 1908 span in its entirety, reducing the number of tracks on the railline to only one. This is what the bridge looks like before and after the facelift:

The duo truss bridges before the facelift in 1987. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
The northern Warren trusses at the time of the facelift. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
Sideview of the bridge before the facelift. Photo taken by H.D. Kienitz, used with permission
Warren through truss spans after the facelift: Photo taken in August 2012 from the Friedrichstadt Arch Bridge
Photo of the main spans after the facelift. Photo taken in 1997 by H. Doose, used with permission.

The Friedrichstadt Railroad bridge still serves traffic today, which consists of the NOB Train services, which stops regularly at Friedrichstadt, and the InterCity lines, which starts at Westerland on the Island of Sylt and runs through Hamburg going to destinations in the south. It is unknown whether there will be another two-track bridge built at this site soon. It depends on the number of passengers travelling through the western part of Schleswig-Holstein and the problem with bottlenecks at this site. Right now, with four national raillines and the options available for rail travel in the region, it appears unlikely. That might change in the five years….

Fast Fact: Apart from the InterCity line connecting Sylt and Hamburg, the three other national lines include Hamburg-Luebeck- Copenhagen (crossing the Fehmarnsund Bridge), Hamburg-Rendsburg-Flensburg-Kolding (crossing the Rendsburg High Bridge) and Hamburg-Neumuenster-Kiel, the latter two of which carry ICE-Train services, whereas the second and third lines have international connections to Scandanavia.

Red Arch Bridge at Ostersielzug. Photo taken in August 2012

The Arch Bridges of Friedrichstadt:

It is unknown how many arch bridges were built during the time of the town’s infancy. But if one counts the Eider crossing, there are four arch bridges that still serve Friedrichstadt today, regardless of its shape and form. While there is little to no information about the Red Arch Bridge, located behind the main highway, as well as the modern arch bridge located near the police station (both in Ostersielzug), the most famous of the bridges is the Stone Arch Bridge, which is located at the eastern entrance to the market square. Built in 1773, the bridge is one of the oldest structures still standing in Germany. The one-span structure was renovated in 1981 by strengthening and widening it to provide traffic across the canal, which continues to do so today. It is one of the most photographed places in the town and provides tourists who eat at the ice cream parlor next to it with a picturesque background of the city.

Passenger Boat passing through the Stone Arch Bridge. Photo taken in August 2012
Cyclist crossing the Holmertor Bridge with the Mittelburg Bridge in the far distant background. Photo taken in August 2012

 

 

Wooden Bridges in Friedrichstadt

It is unknown how many wooden bridges existed in Friedrichstadt, for they differed on location and design. But today there are at least four bridges remaining that were built made of wood, most of which feature triangular deck trusses supporting wooden support piers and three of which can be found along the northern Mitteburgwall canal, the same one where the Stone Arch Bridge is located. A pair of notable bridges should be noted here. The Middle Bridge, located next to the Stone Arch Bridge, is known as the Holmertor Bridge and featured a bascule bridge supported by a wooden tower, as depicted in a painting provided by the city. It was replaced at the end of the 19th century.  The Kuhbruecke (Cows Bridge) is located at the mouth of the Treene adjacent to the Blue Bridge and is the third bridge located at the site. A lock is located right next to it and protects the town from flooding from the Treene River.

Painting of the Holmertor Bridge before its replacement. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives
Cow’s Bridge, oblique view. Photo taken in August 2012
Photo taken in August 2012

Blue Bridge:

The final bridge on this tour is the Blue Bridge. Located over the Treene River in the district of Westersielzug, this bridge is the only one in the city that features a double leaf bascule bridge, one of the most common types of bridges to be found in Schleswig-Holstein. Yet this bridge represents a historic symbol for the city as about a handful of these bridges were constructed in the 1800s, including this bridge which was recently profiled as a Mystery Bridge and is also in the running for the Ammann Awards. That bridge was located in the same district as the Blue Bridge, according to the City Archives. Serving as a gateway to the historic city center from the north (and the train station), the Blue Bridge was constructed in 1991 to serve as a historic marker to the bridges that have long since been lost. However, the main spans were lifted only once in its lifetime. Reason? While the plan was to use the Treene as a thoroughfare, it was blocked thanks to a fixed span located to the west of the bridge. Since then, the bridge practically serves as a fixed span, even though technically it is a bascule bridge. Nevertheless, it is mentioned a great deal through boat tours and other notes in the travel guides and is a treat to those wanting to visit Friedrichstadt.

Author’s Note: The fixed span mentioned here has been in service since the 1970s. Its predecessor was the Kreisbahnbrücke, a polygonal Warren pony truss bridge that used to carry trolly traffic to the city from the train station.

Kreisbahnbruecke. Photo courtesy of the Friedrichstadt City Archives

To sum up, Friedrichstadt is a city full of history and surprises, no matter which aspect one is interested in. The city has 18 bridges, which is unusual, however, each one tells a story, which is worth listening to or reading about when spending time there, regardless of bridge type and size.  The city may be small, but its history and heritage makes Friedrichstadt a must-see place when visiting Schleswig-Holstein.

The author would like to thank Christiane Thomsen at the Friedrichstadt City Archives, Rainer Butenschoen, Dietrich Doose and H.D. Kienitz for their help in providing information and photos on the bridges in Friedrichstadt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Bridge nr. 14: A draw bridge with valuable history

Photo courtesy of the City Archives of Friedrichstadt (Dt. Stadtarchiv Friedrichstadt)

The mystery bridge is in connection with the article on the Bridges of Friedrichstadt in western Schleswig-Holstein in northern Germany. The article will be posted as soon as all the information has been gathered.

Friedrichstadt, a town of 2,300 that is located seven kilometers south of Husum, may be a typical small town in Schleswig-Holstein that is famous for houses with roofing made of tree branches, boating and fishing given its proximity to the river and the North Sea, the delicacies made with fish, and the people speaking a Frisian dialect, a primitive form of German that is spoken exclusively in the region. Yet, the town has a Dutch setting that makes it worth visiting: Dutch style housing, canals and especially, bridges. Located at the junction of the Eider and Treene Rivers, the town has least 18 bridges spanning the two rivers and the canals that make the town look like its Dutch counterpart, Amsterdam.

This bridge is one of them. The city archives found this bridge while compiling some information and photos for the article being put together, and it raised some eyebrows for many reasons. The bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge, typical of bridges in Holland where two half-spans open outwards, using the weight that is suspended in the air by two towers. Only a dozen of these bridges exist in Germany, a fraction of the number that its next door neighbor has.  Looking at it closer though, the towers were made of cast iron and resemble that of one that exists over the former Eider Canal in Kluvensiek (located between Kiel and Rendsburg). That bridge was built in 1850 using cast iron provided by Carlshutte in Rendsburg, a company that was founded in 1827 by Karl von Hessen and folded through bankruptcy in 1997.  A photo of the Kluvensiek Bridge is at the end of the article. It is unknown when this bridge was built, we only know that the bridge was replaced in 1896. With all the conflicts that happened in Friedrichstadt’s time, including the wars of 1850 and 1864, it is likely that the bridge either was built before 1850 or during the interwar period and was destroyed in the conflict, or was built after the Danes were driven out of the region by the Prussians during the 1864 conflict. Please note that the Danes took the city from the Prussians during the 1850 conflict.

The mystery bridge was originally located at the Westersielzug area, where the Highway 202 Bridge now crosses this waterway connecting Treene Lake and the Eider River to the south of the town, next to the Blue Bridge, another double leaf bascule bridge that was constructed in 1991 and serves pedestrians. More on that bridge later when presenting the topic on Friedrichstadt’s bridges. A map with the location is found here. It is possible that the Blue Bridge was built as a replacement of the mystery bridge discussed here, yet the pedestrian bridge today clearly does not look like the this antique that no loner exists.

This leads to the following questions to be answered about this bridge:

1. When was this bridge built?

2. Where in the Westersielzug area was this bridge located?

3. Who built this bridge? Was Carlshutte Iron the company responsible for the construction of the towers similar to the one at Kluvensiek?

Any information, regardless of whether it is in English, German or Dutch should be sent to the Chronicles, using the following information below:

flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com

Also, as the city archives is still looking for information about this bridge, for courtesy sake, please also submit the information to the following address below:

c.thomsen@museum-friedrichstadt.de

 

The article on Friedrichstadt’s bridges will be posted either in November or December, as soon as the information is available and the article is finished. Hopefully by then, the mystery of this bridge will be solved. Thank you in advance for your help.

Photo of Kluvensiek Draw Bridge:

Towers of the Kluvensiek Bridge Photo taken in April 2011